The coronavirus has changed his spiritual DNA


June 30, 2021

Right down to our spiritual DNA, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed us. All of us. As hospital chaplains, we can only characterize the spiritual toll of these experiences as enormous. Our job has always been to comfort patients and their families. But COVID has made the support and backing of our fellow physicians a responsibility, a necessity and a privilege.

We stood by the health workers as they experienced the loss and exhaustion that presented them with the most difficult challenges at work they have ever faced – notifying distant families of deaths, closing body bags and sometimes assisting. at memorial services for their own colleagues. We offered renewal where we could.

“I didn’t used to pray,” said a nurse. “I’m not known to pray. But during the pandemic, I needed prayer.” We have tried to create a space for reflection and peace.

Create a prayer space

In a Long Island hospital, we created a meditation room. In a Manhattan hospital, where space was scarce, we had not yet opened our chapel. We carved out a space where it didn’t exist: tables to distribute encouragement, like stones with inspirational words on them. These things may seem trivial, but have helped some to feel grounded.

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“I am struggling,” said another nurse. “I have 30 seconds and I need a blessing.”

We chatted in the elevators and hallways. We have been asked to set up prayer circles – inside or outside. We listened and hung around, signaling our presence to the staff, reminding them of the presence of God, even in the midst of suffering. Letting us know how they were doing opened the door to more in-depth conversations, to the recognition of each other’s spiritual and emotional needs.

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Healing through unity

The differences in our religious beliefs disappeared, as Muslims, Jews and Christians came together to let God in where and when they could. Even those who weren’t enthusiastic about God or religion understood why others were.

A doctor said: “I am an atheist. But I realized that my colleagues needed me for this prayer service.

As chaplains, Psalm 23 resonated in our hearts. We have come to understand his words better: “Yes, although I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no harm: for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.

We walked alongside grieving healthcare workers. We listened to their struggles, shared them, and gave them all the strength and comfort we could. We have seen the suffering and loneliness of the patients through the eyes of the medical staff.

The pandemic has changed us – we let it happen – so that we can see and feel a connection with God in our lives, not only as a detached Creator, but as a force that is intimately tied to each of us, and that binds us together. each. We see God’s role in the wisdom of those who are able to help people in all facets of health care. We cannot explain the “why” of the suffering of the world. But perhaps allowing sacred bonds between us and God and between us to simply exist can help us reflect on life, our own fragility, and the value of our relationships.

Rev. Dr Sonia Trew-Wisdom is the Director of Chaplain Care and Spiritual Services at South Shore University Hospital, and Rabbi Simcha Silverman is the Director of Spiritual Services at Lenox Hill Hospital.

This press release was produced by southern hospital. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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